Summary Wages of Exclusivism

The grotesquely misnamed Holy Land has probably soaked up more human blood per square mile than any other tract of land in the world. For well nigh two thousand years, it has been the meeting ground for the followers of the three great exclusivist religious ideologies of the world, who, in the name of their One God, have shed one another's blood with unremitting fury. And in this century, Hindus and Sikhs too came to add their share to the toll when Indian soldiers joined the British in 'liberating' Jerusalem from the Turks in 1917.

It is not just the three Semitic religions that have clashed here, but also two fundamentally incompatible political visions - exclusivist theocracy and pluralistic secularism. Christianity was essentially born out of the friction between the secular world empire of Rome and the fundamentalist theocratic vision of the Qumranian Zealots - the early Christians that is. In one of the more ironic twists of history, Paul, the Roman cosmopolitan, created an imperialist theocratic ideology in the name of a Qumranian Zealot called Jesus Christ. Thus, what we now call Christianity has nothing to do with the Christians or the early Church whose name it bears; it is a blending of the theocratic vision of the Zealots as modified by Paul into a blind faith in Jesus, with the expansionist vision of Imperial Rome. Its offspring is the imperialist theocracy called Christianity. As for the prevailing atmosphere which gave birth to Christianity, Eisenman and Wise have this to say:

...they [Qumran texts] actually give a picture of the mind set of the people in Palestine at this critical juncture in the formation of what is now called the Western Civilisation. We are on fairly safe ground if we imagine this mind set of extreme apocalyptic 'zeal' as being the dominant one - not the mind set of the Pharisees or Herodians which has been the popular picture up until now...

Certainly the 'Zealots' were party to it, as probably were that group now referred to as 'Jewish Christians', i.e., those Jerusalem Church supporters or followers of James the Just called 'zealous for the Law' in Acts 21.20.

This movement, subverted by Paul and aided by the Jewish Wars - of which the early Christians were the cause and the victims - became transformed into Pauline Christianity. Again we can profitably turn to Eisenman and Wise for their insights.

Both movements used the same vocabulary, the same scriptural passages as proof texts, similar conceptual contexts; but the one can be characterised as the mirror reversal of the other. While Palestinian one was zealot, nationalistic, engage, xenophobic and apocalyptic; the overseas one was cosmopolitan, antinomin, pacifistic - in a word 'Paulinised'. Equally, we can refer to one as 'Jamesian', at least if we judge by the letter ascribed to James in the New Testament, which Eusebius and Martin Luther felt should not be included in the New Testament. (pp, 10-11)

One would hesitate to call Pauline Christianity 'pacifist' especially in light of the sinister force we know as anti-Semitism that made its appearance at this juncture, to bring untold misery to a people who have contributed so greatly to Western

Civilisation, But for that, these passages from Eisenman and Wise's great book is a concise summary of the picture of the origins of Christianity now coming to light as the extraordinary saga of the Dead Sea Scrolls continues to unfold. And this is exactly what the Vatican, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the high priests of the Church hierarchy have to contend with in trying to prevent the doctrinal foundation from collapsing under the weight of increased knowledge of the origins of Christianity brought about by the Dead Sea Scrolls. As an exclusivist system - which is what organized Christianity is - it must either stand or fall by its doctrine, there is no middle ground. It cannot discard the old, assimilate the new and change. These are the wages of exclusivism.

Now with the integrity of the 'book' as well as the 'history' of Jesus and the Doctrine of the Faith as propagated by the Church all thrown into doubt by the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Church is finding its very foundation giving way. Faced with this latest and greatest threat to its doctrinal posilion, the Church has reacted the way it always has - denial and suppression. That game is now running threadbare, but it is difficult for an old dog to learn new tricks. The Church has apparently decided to stick to its time-tested methods by reviving another of its hoary institutions - the Inquisition. We shall soon see how it operates today.

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